Chipping Away by Ron Steinman
Recently The New York Times ran a horror story in of all places its business pages. Its effect made me scream, shudder and run for cover.
The story was about the many businesses that now track their employees in the workplace to make sure they are doing their job. They do it by using software in computers and smart phones that secretly track every move the employee makes at the start of the workday to its normal conclusion. So the employee thinks.
Fortunately, I control my workplace. I don’t have to worry about anyone tracking my performance in my office or during my private time away from work. But I am in the minority, the exception to this ugly change in American business.
All the science fiction and fantasy tropes are alive and well in the new America. A new technology is now king. According to those who track workers they say they want to make sure they are getting everything and more from you when you are on the job. However, many businesses continue to track their employees even after work nominally ends.
Big Brother has arrived. Brave New World is a reality. According to one perpetrator of this new shift in the workplace, “We tell people not to focus on the Big Bother aspect. This is all about efficiency.” Nonsense. Fulltime control in the guise of productivity is the new commercial divinity.
Long-range truckers are under surveillance to make sure goods arrive on time and there is no theft along the route. There are bathrooms in Japan that note everything that happens inside that seemingly private place. But this new mode of tracking workers bodes ill for the future of the American worker, especially off the job when he or she has what was once private time.
We insert microchips in our pets so we can track them if they run off or someone steals them. Not a bad idea, but these are animals, our pets. We control them and they have no say in how we treat them. Are people the next candidates for personal microchips? It’s not a big deal to create a chip and then slip it under the skin, preferably in the upper arm. The signal the chip would send would go to a central tracking station where it records every move the person makes in real time. If someone with a chip is not performing on, or, what is worse, off the job, fire him or her. The employer has the evidence and the power. Then send that person to a convenient Disable Station and remove the chip for that business. If the recently deactivated person has a new job insert a fresh chip. The pattern of control will last until the next job and the next chip. The individual loses his or her self and becomes a robot without a soul. That is the sad story of life in the modern world.
I know the once hard-fought rules of privacy hardly exist in today’s climate of overpowering social media. Little remains that we can still revere. But I still believe in privacy. I do not intend to let this die easily if I can help it. Sadly, though, for far too many the concept of privacy is almost dead. Many have no idea what that loss means. That is sad.